Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Help

I finally got around to reading the best-selling novel The Help.  Having finished it last night, I can't seem to get it off my mind today.  With family in Mississippi and throughout the rest of the South, this book certainly struck a cord with me. 

First-time author Kathryn Stockett tells the story of three women: a 23-year-old white woman named Skeeter and two black maids Aibileen and Minny.  She changes the point of view throughout the story, so you can see it through the eyes of each woman.  After an interesting turn of events, the women decide to write a book about their experiences as black maids working for white families.  Skeeter, Aibileen, Minny, and the rest of the maids risk so much to bring attention to a very pressing issue at the time. 

It took me awhile to get into the book, and overall, I did think it was a bit too long.  However, once I was into it, I was hooked.  I laughed, I cried, and most importantly I considered things from "the help's" point of view. 

Some of the maids in the book had wonderful relationships with their white families.  Others did not have it so well.  The laws and social rules that transpired were absolutely horrific.  I simply cannot comprehend why people ever thought they were acceptable.  My heart breaks over and over for what these people had to go through and what many still go through today.

The Help brings to light a very interesting concept.  What a strange thought that the white children love you like their mama (some even thought their maids were their moms-sweet Mae Mobley!) while the parents scorn you and treat you like a dirty, wild animal. 

My mom and aunt grew up spending summers in Mississippi at their aunt's house.  She had black maids working for her, and I grew up hearing stories about their summers there.  Luella, one of the maids, had a soft spot for my mom and even called her Sunshine.  My mom said that she went back to visit her while she was in college at Ole Miss.  She said that Luella welcomed her and her friend into her very modest home and treated them just like family.  I'd like to think that if Luella's stories had been in The Help, that they would have been the happy and funny ones. 

I encourage you to read this book immediately.  I've never understood and probably never will comprehend why people think we are all so different.  As humans, I truly think we have more in common than not.  We all want to love, to be loved, and to find true happiness.  Just because the steps you take to do so are different than mine doesn't mean they are bad, wrong, or mean any less than mine do.  Let's celebrate the fact that God made us in so many colors; what a beautiful rainbow of people.  I'm glad we don't all look the same. 

In the afterwords of the book, Stockett explains that the following is her favorite quote of the entire book.  It is mine as well.

"Wasn't that the point of the book? For women to realize, We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought."
(Kathryn Stockett)

1 comment:

Mary Ann said...

I read this book; I thought it was great!